25
Mar
08

KEEP IT ON THE BROWNLOWE: Mini Life…Tragically UnHeard Of.

emBrownlowe

We all know the US Economy is suffering…. When Europeans come to visit US it is like they are experiencing the best sale of all time…. I have an insatiable passion for playing music but “living the dream” and going on tour is getting unrealistic with today’s gas prices….

I think I have totally effed my musical karma.

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Confession time: I rarely buy CDs….from well known or indie artists. Usually, I trade music with my friends, listen to bands on Myspace or barter my own CD to get a disc from a friend’s band. Occasionally, I will see a live show, not know the person and buy the CD…or perhaps i have an insatiable instant gratification yearning and NEED to download a guilty pleasure pop song or a rare, remixed b-side NOW NOW NOW from Itunes…

However, the last time I purchased something from I-Tunes I was disappointed because the format they sell in cannot be transferred into a more recognized format such as .aiff, .wav or .mp3. This made it really difficult to fully enjoy because even though I purchased the music, I didn’t feel like I “owned” it.

In November of 2007, my band, Swallows, played a HUGE show at a local women’s music festival. The venue was packed and while we performed there were at least 50 people standing up front, dancing, pounding the stage, cheering…obviously into the music. I even led them in a group clap to keep the beat to a song in hopes of destroying the barriers between audience and performer. This was one of the most exciting examples of audience participation I had experienced in my performing career.

We even announced we had pre-release copies of our new EP, Cloud Machines, specially for the occasion. However, at the end of the night, not one person bought any music. Instead we sold some t-shirts and Swallows necklaces….This confuses me. Why would people who are SO into the MUSIC not want to BUY the music so they can LISTEN to it? Why do apparel items like shirts and necklaces sell prior to our performance?. (I must say, Swallows does have very stylish designs but isn’t it supposed to be about the MUSIC?)

These repeated experiences disturb me. I consider my band, and myself, to be recording artists and it troubles me that people aren’t buying music at shows…even after a stellar live performance where the audience is clearly enjoying themselves. My favorite part of being a musician is creating a sonically profound audio recording…fully realizing my creative potential on record. After a successful show on the road, many people come to us with positive attitudes saying we were the most creative, full sounding rock duo they’ve ever seen live. Often these people either buy a T-Shirt or walk away empty handed.

I think the music culture is starting to fully transform into the digital realm (with the exception of vinyl). The world has too much STUFF….too much plastic…too much paper…both of which are needed to create CDs… I-pods are upgraded so quick I am bummed for spending hard earned $$$ on a model that is going to be outdated 6 months later…but i still use it daily. With constant digital upgrades in I-Tunes I feel as if I am being subconsciously told that the public is ready for a digital revamp of music. Other digital .mp3 players are becoming affordable for all music lovers. I haven’t seen someone use a portable CD player or Walkman in years.

“I-Pods have become synonymous with music – and if I filled my shiny new 160gb iPod up legally, buying each track online at the 99 cents price that the industry has determined, it would cost me about $32,226. How does that make sense?” – demonbaby (<–read more)

Even mainstream music gurus like Radiohead and Beck are embracing the digital music sharing revolution and either letting fans set their own price to download their albums or having fixed priced digital albums featuring audience collaborative artwork or giving them the bare tracks to make their own remixes.

Embracing digital accessibility for music will also save independent bands, musicians and their labels hundreds of dollars in production costs.

Think about it: if you choose to release an album digitally you still get to share your music + artwork without having to dish out the dough to have physical copies made. Instead, you can focus extra money on something else to help your band or different forms of merchandise (ie: t-shirts, screen printed posters, new equipment, etc). Plus you will be saving the environment by not over polluting this Earth with excess product, paper and plastic. (However, if you are still interested in having a quality CD made for short runs without breaking the bank: kunaki is worth looking into.

All of these reasons are why I am so glad there is an outlet like MINI LIFE who is dedicated to creating a friendly and generous bridge between the artist and their fans/music lovers. I am really excited and proud to be apart of the revolution MINI LIFE is creating.

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Gaycondo Presents….
Tragically Unheard of
[Music Concept] of the week

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What is the digital musical revolution, MINI LIFE, all about? It’s creator, Carlos Onawa Rodela, has the answers:
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In a nutshell, what is Mini Life? Why did you choose the name Mini Life?

a. MINI LIFE is a website dedicated to promoting artists, while also delivering unique digital content to fans – directly from the artists themselves.

b. the name MINI LIFE actually came from an old artist name of mine, but then it morphed into another meaning with the company. basically all creation starts off as something small (MINI) and then is released to the world and grows, etc. Everyone has their own ‘MINI LIFE’…and our site helps the artists deliver that vision to the world.

The ways people hear and acquire music is definitely changing. What are some of the changes you have seen in the music industry that inspired you to start Mini Life?.

Well, the music business is failing. and it caused it’s own failure…but technology helped change the playing field as well.
and this isn’t the first time it’s done that, at all. The last time was with movable print/ and the creation of a quick and efficient way to ‘reproduce or share’ the written word.

We are in another time where we can ‘reproduce or share’ music and film (and other media) and we should embrace it. Not run away, calling out ‘pirates’ and filing lawsuits.

The advent of the internet and digital media wields an amazing potential to connect people with stuff they love, and more importantly..stuff they ‘didn’t know they loved’. Once people love stuff, they tend to support it.

Let me say here, that those who don’t support stuff they love (and get for free) are, 1. poor (college students or other wise) 2. are not going to pay bloody 14.99 – 16.99 for a CD for 2 songs they like on it — and for something that DOES NOT COST 14.99 – 16.99 to produce 3. are bleeding fed up with the record business and its old-school ways of throwing money around (internally), looking for ‘hits’ and giving two shits about the music itself (excluding rad small labels), and generally being conservative out of touch wankers.

How does a band get “signed” to Mini Life? What are the expectations between Mini Life and the artist?

For the beta (prelaunch), I’m finding the artists myself, or having artists referred to me from friends, or other artists. In the future, the site will be open to everyone. Their is no expectation on the part of MINI LIFE, in regards to how ‘well’ the artists do selling their content, or climbing the ladder of success. We WANT them to succeed and help them in a variety of ways, but there is no demands or needs from MINI LIFE. We are unlike the old record labels in almost every way. We aren’t in the business of ‘making the numbers’ and selling a certain number of albums/subscriptions. We function and exist to empower and promote the artist.

Why do you think giving music away for free is useful in today’s music economy?

The free to cost model is the way of the future, but it’s also the way of the present. Let me start off by saying – people want to listen to (fully…not a 30 second sample) music or watch movies and ‘then’ decide if they like it or not. This first listening or watching of content is key. It is everything. How can you decide if you like a whole album if someone is charging you 17.99 to find out, especially when true lovers of music want to learn about, and spread the word on — ALOT of music…not just what they can afford (with inflated costs).

Give consumers the opportunity to know/listen/and try out all sorts of new stuff, they will then tell their friends, and become fans of more and more content…not having a cost chained to their experience…. and seriously…Mr. and Mrs. internet retailers…how can anyone base their purchasing decisions on 30 second samples?

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As for the free model working today, in present, just look at any torrent site. File sharing happens, and is NOT going away. It is also helping turn people on to all sorts of new music that they wouldn’t have know about, ever. Millions upon millions of people file share, and they do it because they are hungry for content…hungrier now, that they’ve tried out albums, and movies and become ‘fans’ of the artists content.Also, the Radiohead and NIN digital experiments showed us fans want to support the artists that they love, even when they get free content. More so..sometimes…because now the fan becomes a super-fan and trusts the artist. Now, the way fans support artists are by buying t-shirts, going to shows, buying dvds and getting their friends to go to the shows with them. MINI LIFE helps ‘make’ fans, and then allows the artists to make income from all these avenues–that their new fans fulfill, and MINI LIFE offers these same artists 90% of their digital sales, supporting the creation of these profitable avenues.

Eventually, you will have an artist subscription service where fans will pay a standard rate to get up to date features on Mini Life bands. How will this work?

The subscription service is something were very excited about. It will basically work like this:

1. a person goes to our site- finds some band (filmmaker, etc) and watches some videos, maybe a documentary on the band, and downloads their album and some demos, and maybe their latest music video – and realizes that he/she really likes this artist.

2. this person comes back to the site and clicks the subscription button for that artist. the subscriptions should cost around 3-5 bucks per month (deals for bi-monthly and yearly rates).

3. once the new fan is subscribed and has payed his or her 3-5 dollars (which 90% of goes directly to the artist) they can login and access the ‘FULL’ artist page. this page has potentially the artists newest album (no release date issues here..when an album done – its on the site), a new making-of video, some live tracks and b-sides, and maybe some live video of a show -when the band was in town (and the fan missed the show for a variety of reasons /cost/timing/long lines/etc).

4. Another cool feature of being a subscriber, is the fans get reminders (of show dates, album release dates, etc)–keeping the fans more in touch with their favorite artists – while ALSO delivering this content to them. How many shows have you missed because you didn’t even know your fav band was in town. a lot i’m betting.
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So the subscription is a direct link from fan to artist and artist to fan. The fan gets some free content to decide if he/she actually likes the artist and then the fan can support the artist for as long as he/she chooses…as long as they pay a monthly subscription fee they get access to that artists work -in full….and then some.

oh and the full artist page will function alike an all you can eat buffet — no limits to your downloads or viewing privileges. just get in and download till your hearts content.

What sort of responsibilities will the artist have in order to get paid for the subscription service?.

The responsibilities the artist has who wants to enter into this subscription model is this – provide digital content for fans to download/stream – for the duration of time you want subscribers. The details are still being worked out-but when we launch with it all the info will be provided. In short, the artists will be responsible for their own subscription success. By offering a lot of really cool stuff and more people will be into supporting you via subscription.

“In the end, we are super excited to support a site that truly cares about having creation meet the fans and to develop a true cycle that allows for those who create to keep creating.”

Read more Q & A on MINI LIFE
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Tragically UnHeard Of Archives:

Bumtech (Portland, OR)

Adam Gnade (Portland, OR)

Fast Heart Mart (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Levator (Seattle, WA)

Alina Simone + Yanka (NYC / Carborro, NC / Siberia)

Reporter (Portland, OR)

Podunk Nowhere (San Diego, CA)

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4 Responses to “KEEP IT ON THE BROWNLOWE: Mini Life…Tragically UnHeard Of.”


  1. March 25, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    sweet interview, Em! you are a great writer!!! (:

  2. 3 Diana Elaine
    May 28, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Looking forward to the launching of your site!


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